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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cape Cod Wine Lovers Gather

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

If you have been reading my blogs, you know I am always looking for the perfect wine to share with guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. My need to assist my guests leads me to many a wine tasting to fulfill my duty, or so I often say. This weeks tasting at the Belfry was special and I was pleased that Jan had the opportunity to share it with me. We sat with our friends Ev and Anne and shared great wine and great food.

As the summer turned to fall and now winter, and as the tastings moved from the large outdoor patio into the more intimate Bistro, the number of attendees has lessened. From the peak July numbers of often over seventy, now the numbers are fewer. Although lower in volume, all these diehards are very serious about their wine and food experience. Chris, the owner, partnering with my friends at Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, has responded by rewarding the attendees with even higher quality wines and unique food pairings.

A smile is crossing my face as I am recalling this wonderful evening. Gary from Winebow introduced us to the wines, as restaurant manager Jafar presented the food parings. We started with two Peter Michael Chardonnays. Those of us who follow Wine Spectator Magazine and recently read its Top 100, The Most exciting Wines of 2010, recognize Peter Michael from the top of the list. His 2008 Sonoma County Ma Belle-Fille was the number three wine of the year and rated 97 points on Wine Spectator’s 100 point scale. The winery's website says:

‘In 1982 Sir Peter Michael established the Peter Michael winery on a square mile of rocky volcanic ridges that form the western face of Mount St. Helena in Sonoma County. From the beginning, the wine growing philosophy was modeled on the French tradition infused with a few modern influences: One, the vineyard terroir would be the single most important feature. Two, the wines would be elegant rather than overstated. Three, there would be a hundred-year commitment to the development of a great estate. Given this commitment to the product, only a limited quantity will ever be made.’

Although we did not sample the No. 3 wine, we had the unique pleasure of tasting two 90+ point wines from adjacent single vineyards from the same vintage. First we had the 2008 La Carrière Chardonnay pared with sashimi tuna, and then the 2008 Belle Côte Chardonnay pared with a salmon dish. The two Chardonnays were very different, reflecting the varying types of soil in which the grapes were grown. The La Carrière has a high mineral profile similar to French Burgundy and the Belle Côte has a broader fruit profile more like the best of California’s ‘big’ Chardonnays. The wine dramatically enhanced both fish parings. All of Peter Michaels wines are of very limited production and it was a rare treat to try two in one night.

As we moved on to the reds, we started with the 2006 Whetstone Bella Vigna Pinot Noir from Whetstone Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. The grapes from the Bella Vigna Vineyard in Sonoma produced a ruby red wine with heavy berry aromas that was well pared with a beautiful serving of duck. I had the pleasure of meeting Jamey Whetstone last year at Cellar 55 and tasted some of his younger wines from the Russian River Valley. This 2006 shows that Whetstone’s wines will age well and are something to look forward to. 
The last scheduled wine was a wonderful 2006 Cakebread Merlot from Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, CA. Jack Cakebread was one the early vintners that help put Napa Valley on the world wine map by consistently producing excellent wines. Early in my wine journey, I favored Napa Merlots and this wine reminded me of how good it can be. This big wine was pared with an unbelievable cheese pie. Although there was a ‘bonus’ wine served to finish the tasting, I do not remember it since I was still lost in the great Merlot and cheese pie combination.  

What a night of great wines. All of these wines, except the little remembered bonus bottle, were rated 90+ points and some retail for almost $80.00 per bottle. Guests at our  Sandwich Bed and Breakfast may not be seeing these wines out for general consumption every night, but I had a great time testing them just in case I win the lottery. 

Happy wine-ing!

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas in Sandwich 2010

 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Here at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast we are almost ready for the big day, Christmas. In historic Sandwich Village and at our Inn we hold nothing back to celebrate the season. We kicked off Holly Days in Sandwich with the lighting of the town Christmas tree, in the center of Town-Hall Square, which happens to be at the end of our driveway. 

Our guest and a few hundred residents of Sandwich sang Oh Christmas Tree as the massive pine glowed with it brightly colored lights. The festive caroling took place in front of the neighboring First Church of Christ, just as it has since the mid 1800. This picture perfect New England church was featured on the cover Elvis Presley’s best selling 1967 album. The Sandwich Chamber of Commerce distributed songbooks and candles to assist those who had forgotten the words. I, like many, may not have known all the words, but I sang loudly and with the holiday spirit. It was cold but no snow fell, unlike a few years ago when the snow was coming done so hard you could not make it through a song without shaking the wet snow off the songbook a few times.

To ward off the cold, the Dan’l Webster Inn had set up a hot cider stand under their front portico on Main Street. Many stores were open late and serving hot drinks and sweets. We stopped by to wish Merry Christmas to Lee at the Spotted Cod, a wonderful shop where I know I can always find a gift for Jan, since she loves everything in it. We made our way to the bar at the Belfy Bistro where we gathered around Gary at the grand piano and continued to raise our voices in song. Yes, a little Christmas cheer was also consumed.

Holly Days in Sandwich continued when the North Pole Express pulled out of the train station in Sandwich. Kids of all ages are delighted to ride this specially decorated Cape Cod Central Railroad train to the North Pole Station (the fully restored, early 1900 station in Barnstable). At the North Pole, visitors saw the elves and Rudolph getting ready for the big night while Santa Claus was checking the list of the ‘naughty and nice’ with a little help form Mrs. Claus.

Last Sunday, our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast was one of the featured homes on the annual Holly Days Home Tour. Hundreds of folks took the opportunity to see our wonderfully decorated historical home. As we are celebrating the 260th anniversary of our Inn, Jan out did herself to lavish our tree and fireplace mantels with starfish and seashells of all kinds to capture the theme of a seaside Christmas. We served breakfast to our guest in front of the fire in the keeping room and then reset the table with our finest Christmas dishes to show the tour visitors how a 1750 Christmas dinner would have looked.

As Christmas day approaches, you can still join us for the fun, see our web site for our Holiday specials through New Year’s Eve. The outside lights are aglow and the inside is decorated to welcome you to share our cheer at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast.

Inn Peace

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cape Cod Wine Lovers Enjoy A Malbec Flight

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

As the weather cools, I am looking for a hearty wine to serve guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. A recent wine tasting at the Belfry Bistro featured Malbec from Argentina…a hearty wine indeed. Chris, the owner of the Belfry, changed the normal flow of the tasting by presenting the wines in a ‘flight’.

From Wikipedia: "Tasting flight is a term used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines, usually between three and eight glasses, but sometimes as many as fifty, presented for the purpose of sampling and comparison."

At our tasting, each attendee had a pure white sheet of paper with four circles and the name of each of the Malbecs to be tasted written in one of the circles. We poured all four Malbecs at the same time into the appropriate glass. Immediately, against the white paper, you could see the differences between the wines. This is a great way to compare and contrast the wines. You can observe the variations in color and clarity by holding each glass to the white background and then next to the other wines. In a sequential tasting of four or five wines, your memory of the first wine fades as you move along. I often wish I could go back and re-taste an earlier wine to contrast it with the current one; a flight gives you the perfect opportunity to compare the taste of each wine directly to the other wines.  

The wines compared were: Alta Vista Premium Melbec produced by the Alta Vista Winery near Mendoza; Nandu Melbec from the Portet Family wines near Lujan de Cuyo; the Punta Final Malbec from Bodega Renacer in Perdriel; and the Zuccardi Series A Malbec from the Familia Zuccardi in Santa Rosa.

All four wines are from Argentina’s famous Mendoza region, acclaimed to produce some of the best Malbec in the world. All four Bodegas (wineries) were within 60 miles of the city of Mendoza. All four wines were of a similar price range. So, one could expect the wines to be very similar in color and flavor profile. You would be wrong if that was your assumption. The wines ranged from ruby red to deep purple and the fruit flavors from light strawberry to dark blackberry and spice. As always, each wine reflected the actual specific soil where the grapes were grown and the fermentation and aging choices of each individual winemaker. I enjoyed the wide variation of style shown by these great Argentina Malbecs. 

To go with the wine, Chef Dan prepared four ‘snacks’ and, like the flight of Malbecs, he presented all four at the same time. Each attendee was given a beautifully prepared individual platter with all four of the tasting snacks. The advantage was that you could compare each of the food offerings with all four of the wines. I went back and fourth enjoying the subtle differences as I mixed the wines and foods.

This flight tasting was a new experience and one I look forward to repeating often. I am on my way to Cellar 55 Wine Merchants to stock up for guest at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast. Join us at the Inn and we’ll try our wings with a flight of our own.
Happy Wine-ing!

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wine Lover's Cape Cod Thanksgiving

 Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

Thanksgiving is about family and friends. Jan and I do not have family near us at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, but we do have great friends who joined us for a wonderful thanksgiving dinner and some great wines. Frequent guests at our Inn, Pricilla and Bob from Saratoga NY, now considered old friends, came to stay for the three day Holiday. New neighbors, Marva and Bill, now considered new friends, also joined us for the evening. We all share a passion for good wine.

We started the evening at the Inn with Scharffenberger Cellars’ sparkling wine from Mendocino, CA. As I have said before, it cannot be Champagne if not but from Champagne, France, but this sparking wine sure met my cork popping and lively bubble criteria. I have liked this wine for years even though it is not as well know as some other California sparkling wines. New guests from New York City shared a toast with us on their way out to dinner. A joy of being an Innkeeper is meeting new guests and introducing them to other guests and our friends, who often gather around the fire at Inn, most likely with a good glass of wine being shared.

We made our way to the Belfry Bistro for our Thanksgiving dinner; the first Pilgrims would have envied us that night.The owner, Chris, joined us for the last seating of the evening and the feast began. Since we had already started with a white wine at the Inn, we went immediately to a red. We broke away from some traditional paring logic and instead just selected some of our favorite wines. I selected a newfound favorite, the ZD Wines 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of the Napa Valley. It pared well with the first course of Vanilla Scented Pumpkin Soup with Cornbread Croutons and the second salad course of Organic Autumn Greens with Roasted Parsnips and Vermont Alpine Cheese.

With our main course of Cider Roasted Turkey with all the trimmings, we went a little more traditional with a Point Noir. Marva, who grew up in Oregon, selected a wonderful Alexana Winery 2007 Pinot Noir Shea Vineyards form the Willamette Valley. I have had many great Oregon Pinots, but had never tried this one; it was the perfect match for an unbelievable main course.

When you think it couldn’t get any better, I finished the meal by selecting the most sinful dessert: Warm Chocolate Goo Cake, Fudge Ice Cream, with Raspberry Flavors. Chris’ wine choice was a great Cakebread Cellars 2007 Dancing Bear Ranch, a wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the Howell Mountain area of Napa Valley. This wine is a treat anytime, but was the icing on the cake, so to speak, for me as it magnified the flavor experience of my chocolate delight.

So, all in all, I would say it was a perfect Thanksgiving, great food and wine shared with wonderful friends. Since my search to find great wines to serve guest at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast never stops, I also discovered a great new Pinot Noir to consider. To participate in the fun, consider joining us at the Inn next Thanksgiving or we also have some great Christmas and New Year Eve’s specials on our website right now.

Happy wine-ing,

 Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sandwich, MA Sparkles for the Holidays

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings 
All wines that sparkles are not Champagne

I am in search of the perfect wine to serve guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast over the upcoming holidays. When it comes to that very special occasion or celebration, what is the type of wine most people think of buying to share and commemorate the event? Champagne, of course! Even as a kid from a little farming town outside of Chicago, I knew that something that popped its cork and had bubbles was special. I admit that Cold Duck may have been the first wine I purchased because it met my ‘pop and bubble’ criteria. I have come a long way since those days, I hope.  

The Wednesday night tasting at the Belfry Bistro expanded my horizons about popping and bubbling alternatives. Kris, from Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, and Polly, from Classic Wine Imports, selected four interesting sparkling wines. Notice, I did not say four Champagnes.

All sparkling wines from Champagne France can be called Champagne, but a sparkling wine form anywhere but Champagne France cannot be called Champagne. Champagne is not just a generic term for any sparkling wine, but is the protected French name of sparkling wine produced from specific grapes grown within a specific, legally defined area of Northern France. The French wine industries’ regulated approach to the making of Champagne has assured that some of the greatest sparkling wines come only from France, but usually with a predictably higher price tag. Also, French wines are almost exclusively made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes. The four sparkling wines of our tasting challenged both the grape and price paradigms of French Champagnes.

We started the evening with Laetitia NV Brut Cuvee, a sparkling wine from the central coast of California. Like French Champagne, it is a classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but with Pinot Blanc instead of Point Meunier. Laetitia follows a ‘Methode Champenoise’ tradition of malolactic fermentation including bottle aging, riddling, and disgorging. It is Non-Vintage, which means a number of vintages from various years are blended to give Laetitia’s Brut Cuvee a consistency from year to year. This smooth sparkling was nicely pared with little neck clams from Woodbury Shellfish, a sustainable grower from Wellfleet, MA.

Although the first wine we tasted was nice and reminded me of many good Champagne and sparkling wines I have had, the second wine started that paradigm shift from what I had experienced before. It was Italian, the NV Riondo Pink Spago Argento Vino Frizzante. Made from a red Rabosa grape, this fresh and fruity wine was a pale rose color in the glass. It really came to life when it was pared with tuna sashimi. The next wine was a real surprise, the Pacific Rim White Flowers Sparkling Riesling NV. Made with grapes from Washington State's Yakima River area, it did not taste like the sweet German Rieslings I have tasted.  It was served with an interesting paring of fresh local Nantucket Bay scallops.

I think in this case, we did save the best for last. The last wine was a 2008 Paringa Sparkling Shiraz from Southern Australia. Paringa Vineyard’s website says: ‘Paringa - A magical place where clean soil meets the clean water meets the clean air’. This bubbling wine is a deep magenta red color and I find it a delightful visual shock when first poured in a flute. I have enjoyed this wine before where the host had referred to it as ‘black gold’ and I agree, especially when pared with Chocolate ice cream and other assorted chocolate treats. It was by far my favorite of the tasting.

After this great tasting, I had this song running through my head by a very funky singer by the name of Taj Mahal, it was titled ‘Snow in the Desert’ with the refrain of ‘Champagne don’t drive me crazy, cocaine don’t make me lazy; ain’t nobodies business but your own’. It may be true, but now I have a sparkling alternative to Champagne that I will be serving to guest at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast over the Holidays. See our Holiday Specials, come stay with us, and I’ll share some great bubbly with you. 
Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Friday, November 12, 2010

Matthew Mead Event at Sandwich’s Spotted Cod

Matthew Mead
One of the most charming and beautiful seaside boutiques on Cape Cod is located here in Sandwich, Massachusetts. It is a favorite place guests staying at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast love to visit to purchase something special for their home or as a gift to take home to a friend. It is also a very favorite place of this innkeeper.

During Holly Days in Sandwich, our annual Christmas Stroll, the Spotted Cod is hosting an event with celebrity lifestyle and entertaining expert Matthew Mead. He is the author of numerous books and has contributed to many well know publications including Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, Victoria, and Country Living. He is also a frequent contributor to the Discovery Channel and HGTV.

On Saturday, December 4th, 2010, from 11 am until 4 pm, the Spotted Cod will be presenting Matthew Mead and his newly released “book-azine”, Holidays with Matthew Mead, which celebrates, and offers inspiration for, the Christmas holiday season.

Mr. Mead says of his new publication:
"Holiday with Matthew Mead is a 'book-azine' that encompasses all that I love about the holiday season: the traditions, celebrations, and magic that is the holiday season. The pages of Holiday with Matthew Mead are filled with fresh, easy ideas that can be achieved in two or three steps. It's a novel approach to almost everything holiday, and I hope you take a chance to pick it up and see how these updated ideas might inspire you. With 144 pages of holiday inspiration - featuring well-known and admired designers, bloggers and top-notch stories - and printed on beautiful paper (while not drowning in ads!), we consider Holiday with Matthew Mead part book/part magazine - a publication that you will keep from year to year and add to your collection of Holiday decorating, crafting and cooking magazines and books."

Edible Centerpiece by Matthew Mead
With a little help from the master, your home can sparkle with the magic of the holiday season. Call the Spotted Cod at (508) 888-8263 to pre-register for your signed copy of Holiday With Matthew Mead and to get more information about Matthew Mead’s visit to Sandwich. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet this talented man.

Visit Matthew Mead's Style to learn how you can become a member and begin downloading holiday decorating ideas, templates for craft projects, and recipes for holiday goodies.

Be sure to read Matthew’s blog and, while you are there, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sandwich, Massachusetts' Historic Past

History Series - Part IV

Our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast is located in the center of historic Sandwich Village and is part of the Sandwich Town Hall Historic District. This wonderful house was built in 1750 and was in the Hall family from the 1700s until the last descendant sold the property in 1929. For 260 years our house and the Hall family’s lives were woven into the fabric of what makes Sandwich Village such a wonderful place to visit and to live. In previous blogs, I have covered the time from the founding of Sandwich in 1639 until the early 1800s. The 1800s was a dramatic time for both the Hall family and Sandwich Village.

Deming Jarves
The man who had the most impact on the sleepy town of Sandwich in the 1800s was Deming Jarvis (1790-1869), who is recognized as one of the most famous names in American glassmaking. Born and raised in Boston, by the time he came to Sandwich he was a successful businessman having helped found the New England Glass Company in South Boston in 1818. As a young entrepreneur, he branched out into other related business and was already the holder of various glassmaking patents that advanced the art and science of glassmaking in Massachusetts. By 1824, Jarvis set out to build his own ‘modern’ glass factory.

Jarvis chose the small agricultural community of Sandwich as the site for his new venture. He was familiar with Sandwich Village from sporting holidays; at that time the town was a favorite hunting and fishing retreat for Boston businessmen. So, as early as the 1800, ‘tourism’ was important to Sandwich.  Since it was first settled, Sandwich was known as the ‘door to the Cape’ as the few colonial era roads ran through Sandwich, and it was the terminus for the stage lines and mail service. All travelers and commerce from Plymouth and Boston to anywhere else on the Cape passed through Sandwich. The industrious town folks quickly opened taverns like my neighbors in the Historic District, the Newcomb Tavern on Grove Street and the Fressenden Tavern on Main Street, to meet the needs of the travelers. Even today, the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce emphasizes our key geographic location in the slogan: ‘Sandwich…Cape Cod begins here’.  

Boston & Sandwich Glass Co. c. 1830
On July 4, 1825 Jarvis’ Sandwich Manufacturing Company ‘commenced blowing glass’ and eventually, as the renamed Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, grew to be one of America’s most important sources of pressed glass. It surprised me to learn that Jarvis selected Sandwich for the abundant supply of wood in the nearby forests to burn in the huge furnaces, and the marsh grass used to pack the glass products for shipment, rather than for the sand, which was actually too impure for making high quality glass. The company operated from 1825 until 1888 when it could no longer effectively compete with new and cheaper methods of production in the Midwest.

The opening of this major industry changed Sandwich forever. The massive physical factory building dominated the skyline north of Sandwich Village on the shore of the Cape Cod Bay. As was typical in the 1800, the Company built housing for the factory workers and ran a company ‘store’ that sold to the workers on credit. The workers’ ‘tenements’ were built as duplexes and multi-family houses near the factory. Housing and shops were developed along what is now Jarvis Street, the area designated on maps of the time as Jarvisville. Jarvis dug a canal in the marshes behind the factory and built docks to receive imported sand and to ship finished products. In 1848, the Cape Cod Branch Railroad connected Sandwich to Boston via Fall River. In addition to supporting the shipping needs of the glass works, it also improved the flow of other goods and tourist to Sandwich. Today, the Cape Cod Central Railroad with its afternoon Scenic Fun Trips and Elegant Dinner Train, travels through Sandwich on these same rail beds from the 1850s. The train is now a favorite tourist attraction,  

Amazingly, there is nothing left of the massive manufacturing buildings. After the factory closed in 1888, the brick buildings were dismantled and the brick reused across Cape Cod. Many of the workers’ houses and stores built in the 1800s remain and can be seen on your way to the scenic Sandwich Boardwalk, which stretches across the marshes where the glass factory commerce once flourished. I always suggest that our guest, on their way to Boardwalk, stop at the corner of Jarvis and Factory and look at the bronze relief map that depicts that intersection in the mid 1800s.

Sandwich Glass Museum, 2010
Although the original glass plants are gone, examples of Jarvis’ revolutionary new methods of glass making and the history of the industry are recalled at the Sandwich Glass Museum. It is located across the street from our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast Inn on property donated by the last of the Hall decedents, Lottie Hall Chipman. Our guests enjoy reliving these great moments in the history of Sandwich. Daily, the museum offers a movie about the first 300 years of Sandwich and live glass blowing demonstrations at its’ fully functional glass furnace that is kept burning 24 hours a day.

The Sandwich Glass Museum, Sandwich Village, and the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center will be decorated for the holidays. It is worth the trip to see our great historical neighborhood in all it festive glory. See the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce website for a schedule of holiday events and our Inn website for our holiday special.  

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sandwich Village on Cape Cod for the Holidays

The holidays are a special time in Sandwich Village and at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. Sandwich Village is the quintessential Currier and Ives New England town during the Holidays. At Thanksgiving, a few of the brightly colored leaves will still cling to the great oak and maple trees that line the streets of the Village. That wonderful smell of natural wood fires will mingle with the aromas of Thanksgiving dinners being readied for family gatherings. The first Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving was celebrated just a few miles up the road at the Plymouth Colony in 1620, and the tradition continued here in Sandwich after it was incorporated in 1639.

In 1750 the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at the Jonathan Bassett home at 118 Tupper Road in Sandwich Village. This year, we are celebrating the 260th Thanksgiving in this lovely, historic home that is now the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center. See our website for great Thanksgiving specials.

Sandwich Village really shines for Christmas with lots of activities starting the first weekend in December and running through New Year’s Eve. The Sandwich Chamber of Commerce decorates the Village in greens and lights to reflect the season. Town Hall Square, of which we are a part, is the center of the festivities. The Town Christmas tree, located at the end of our driveway, is lighted as we town folks and visitors sing carols in front of the First Church of Christ. The shops are open late and hot toddies and goodies are offered to warm and refresh the wandering patrons. On the second Sunday of December, we participate in the Home Tour and open our Inn to the 100s of visitors who have an opportunity to see some of Sandwich’s magnificent old homes in their Christmas splendor. I always enjoy giving tours of our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast and sharing its wonderful 260-year history.

This year we will be open through New Year’s Eve and will celebrate with friends and guests. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve bring thoughts of food and celebrations. Why don't you come to Cape Cod this year? Sandwich is a very special place to spend the Holidays and we are offering some great packages to make your celebrations memorable ones.

See the Sandwich Chamber website for a complete listing of Holly Days in Sandwich events.

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Wines Come Early to Cape Cod

Charlie's Weekly Wine-ings

The weather is turning and I am planning ahead for what wines to serve guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast on Thanksgiving. Conveniently, I was asked to help out at the Wednesday wine tasting at the Belfry sponsored by Cellar 55 Wine Merchants that was exploring what wines to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. Timing is everything and I am again at the right place at the right time.

As always at a Belfry tasting, each of the wines is pared with a food sampling. As this one had a Thanksgiving theme, I had thoughts of pumpkins and dressing running through my head. Since I have the opportunity to taste a lot of wine, and at least per Jan spend too much time at Cellar 55, I had already tasted two of the four wines offered and thus had a certain level of expectation about them. I was in for a pleasant surprise on both the food and wine choices.

Gary Gahl from Winebow Boston conducted the tasting and started us with an Oregon Riesling. My first thought when I hear Riesling was ‘sweet’ German wines, which I never buy. The 2009 Riesling from Willamette Valley Vineyards was not too sweet and was very refreshing by itself. It was pared with parsnip soup with blue cheese. Together the wine and soup came alive. I am not sure I have ever had parsnip soup and would never have thought to serve it with a Riesling. What a nice start.

Next we had the 2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards ‘Whole Cluster’ Pinot Noir with a mixed green salad. Gary explained that in this wine making process, the grapes are left on the stems and then fermented in a large tank where the weight of the grapes themselves performs the ‘crushing’. The same process is often used in French Beaujolais, yielding a light, fruity and very drinkable wine. Kris from Cellar 55 calls this a great ‘porch’ wine to enjoy as you sit quietly in you favorite chair on your porch and watch the world go by.

Finally we got to the turkey pared with 2008 De Majo Norante Sangiovese. But this was not just any old turkey; it was brine soaked turkey breast with a wonderful light sauce. Sangiovese is the main grape in all Chianti and this was a nice fruit-driven wine that complemented the turkey. The Wine Advocate gave it 90 points and said:

"The 2008 Sangiovese Terre degli Osci is an incredibly delicious, full-bodied wine with gorgeous clarity and definition. Made in a bold, fruit-driven style, the wine offers terrific depth and a long, polished finish. This harmonious red is a knockout!"

Often the last paring of the evening is with a desert and I was thinking about pumpkin pie all day. But the last wine listed was a 2008 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec from Argentina. Bousquet is a leading organic producer from the Mendoza region. I could not see Malbec and pumpkin pie. The last paring was not dessert, but an exceptional tasting of venison. This big Malbec and powerful meat were a perfect combination, as the flavors mingled and lingered, I forgot all about the pie.

As I savored the experience of these great wine and food parings, I wondered how we could replicate it at our Sandwich Inn. Would I be able to match Chef Dan’s parsnip soup? How exactly do you ‘brine’ a turkey? Would Jan even allow me to have venison in the kitchen? Since Chef Dan isn’t coming to my house to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, I solved my dilemma by making reservations at the Belfy Bistro for Thanksgiving Dinner. I will get to experience more wonderful parings without all the trouble. I think this will be a new tradition for Jan and me. We hope you will take a look at our Thanksgiving Specials and come join us.

Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sandwich, MA Has Rich History

History Series - Part III

The home that is now our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, stands in the heart of historic Sandwich, MA. It was built in 1750 and owned by the Hall family until 1929. Hall family members participated in, and contributed to, the growth of Sandwich. They watched the ups and downs of the community from pre Revolutionary War to the Great Depression. The families’ fortunes may have followed the same course as the towns. It is unclear from the records left behind, but many kind words have been recorded about Hall family members by their peers. 

Hallstead c. 1860
The Village of Sandwich and the Halls suffered through the Revolutionary War’s  demands for men and supplies. No records exist to tell of the service of the Hall men, but all residents made many large contributions in the form of service time and/or money and goods contributed to sustain the Continental Army. Cape Cod and Sandwich were also disportionately impacted by the shipping disruptions and sea blockades of the War of 1812. Even in spite of all the difficulties, Sandwich continued to grow. The earliest ‘census’ records show in 1750 about 209 families with about 1254 members, and in 1790 about 326 families with about 1991 members. The first official Federal Census of 1820 shows another 25% growth to 452 families with 2484 members. 

During the hard war times and growth times, the Hall family lived at 118 Tupper Road, then called Franklin Street. In about 1830, Jonathan Hall (1799-1879), Elisha Hall’s son, may have expanded the original family ‘saltbox’ home into the Federal style home we have today. The Historical Commission and a subsequent owner of the house had considerable correspondence in the 1970’s about the degree to which the existing house includes the original 1750 structure. Some think it obvious that much of the chimney and remaining five fireplaces are original, and there are still many ancient hand-hewn timbers in the basement and roof providing key structural support. We know for sure that most of what we see today, including the first floor dental molding and wainscot, are from this 1830 expansion, as is the narrow pine flooring that was laid on top the wide board pumpkin pine still visible in some first floor rooms. A new ‘summer’ kitchen was also added to the rear of the house which today is our year round kitchen. Regardless of what was built when, our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast stands today as a tribute to the skills and craftsmanship of those early Hall family members. 

Christ Church
Sandwich Town Hall

 While Jonathan Hall was expanding his house, the neighborhood around him was also changing. In 1834, the completion of the new Sandwich Town Hall (just restored and rededicated on October 2) solidified our location as the heart of Sandwich. Other families followed the trend and built new Colonial and Federal style homes, including Ezra Goodwin’s 1815 Brick Federal at 100 Tupper (then Franklin Street). Also in 1830s, Seth Nye first built his Federal home a 2 Grove street across from Town Hall, followed shortly by his law office at 4 Grove Street. That office was almost immediately expanded, the left portion added for use by Nye’s sister. The magnificent First Church of Christ, around the corner from our Inn, was built in 1847 for the Calvinistic Congregational Society. Its’ image was on the cover of Elvis Presley best selling 1968 gospel album. All of these wonderful buildings are part of the Town Hall National Registry District and are a short walk of our Inn.

Dan'l Webster Inn
In the early 1800s, Jonathan Hall and his son, Charles Bascom Hall, may have past Dan’l Webster on Main Street by the Fressenden Tavern. Mr. Webster liked to come to Sandwich to fish and relax, and it is said he wrote some of his most famous orations in his room at the Tavern. Today, in his honor, we have the Dan’l Webster Inn, a Sandwich landmark in its own right and a direct descendent of that first Fressenden Tavern.

Our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast and all of Sandwich Village are part of the wonderful history of this great country. Come stay and experience it as we celebrate our 260th anniversary with specials and holiday packages.

Charlie Preus, the Innkeepers Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sandwich, MA Wine Tasting Features Connecticut Wines

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ing 

Do you think I can find wines in New England to serve to guest at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast? Is a wonderful Connecticut wine an oxymoron? I almost didn’t go to the Wednesday wine tasting at the Belfry Bistro here in Sandwich because it was the Jonathan Edwards Winery from North Stonington Connecticut. I was pleasantly surprised by the wines and intrigued by the story behind the wines. Mark, representing the winery, told the story well and the Belfry pared wonderful appetizers with each of the four wines served.

Often, the story behind a wine is as much fun as the wine. Mark did declare up front that this winery has no connection to the past North Carolina senator and twice presidential candidate John Edwards. Now that would be an interesting story. This Jonathan Edwards’ website declares “New England Charm. Napa Style.”  What does that mean? The Edwards’ family approach includes a state-of-the-art winery on a bucolic New England farm near the Connecticut sea-coast, where select varieties of grapes are grown and processed into Estate Wines, and another line of wines that are made with grapes from Napa Valley.

Jonathan Edwards lived and worked as a winemaker in Napa Valley and established relationships with select growers of different grape varietals. Through long-term contracts, the Connecticut winery has a consistent supply of some great Napa grapes. Jonathan Edwards was not at the Wednesday tasting because he was in Napa directing the hand picking of their grapes. The Napa grapes will start their fermentation in California and then the young wine is brought to New England in refrigerated trucks where it is barrel aged and finally bottled.

 We started the night with a 2009 Jonathan Edwards Chardonnay. It is Estate Grown, meaning the chardonnay grapes are from New England: grown here, picked here, fermented here, aged and bottled in Connecticut. Only certain varietals do well in New England. In addition to the Chardonnay, the Estate Wines include Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Cabernet Franc.

We next tasted three reds, all from Napa Valley grapes: the 2007 Jonathan Edwards Zinfandel, the 2008 Jonathan Edwards Merlot, and the 2007 Jonathan Edwards Cabernet Sauvignon. In each case, the young wine was shipped from California and barrel aged for 18 months in either American or French oak. All were bottled in Connecticut. I particularly liked the Merlot and will be calling on my friends at Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, who carry these wines in Sandwich.
We only tried these three reds, but Jonathan Edwards Winery also features Napa Valley Syrah and Petite Sirah. I look forward to trying the Petite Sirah since I learned Jonathan worked for a time at Vincent Arroyo Winery in Calistoga, CA. Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah is Jan’s all time favorite wine and we have been very lucky to receive an annual allotment, which we nurse and enjoy all year with some very special friends.

I want to try all of these wines when we visit the winery in North Stonington, Connecticut, which is near Foxwoods Resort Casino. This sounds like a fun road trip and necessary to find more great wines for guests at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast.

Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sandwich, MA: Visiting American History

History Series - Part II

Old Quaker Meeting House
The immediate neighborhood where our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast is located became the hub of activity for the newly founded Town of Sandwich when Thomas Dexter built his first Grist Mill in 1637. The Grist Mill that stands today behind the Town Hall is an updated version completed in 1654. Other houses built by the earliest settlers started to appear on the newly created roads around what is now Shawme Pond, then called Mill Pond and Mill River. The Hoxie House on Water Street was built for Reverend John Smith’s family in 1640. Grove Street on the west side of Mill Pond saw Peter Newcomb build his house in 1693, at 8 Grove Street, it later become the Newcomb Tavern that played an interesting role in the Revolutionary War. Also at 10 Grove Street, Seth Pope had a house built for himself in 1699 on the lot next door to Newcomb. Another Pope relative, John Pope, also started his house in 1699 at 110 Franklin (now Tupper), less than a quarter of a mile from the site of our future Inn. Just around the bend from our site, at the corner of River and Main, the first Meeting House structure was already holding the official Sandwich Town Meetings. This first meetinghouse was replaced by the Congregational/Unitarian Church that was restored and is now a private residence on the same corner.

Old Town Cemetery
Also, the Main Street population was growing, with the Bourne house in 1711 at 138 Main Street, and a little further down the street, the Benjamin Fessenden’s “new’ home in 1729. The Fessenden house also became a Tavern with a role in the Revolutionary War. Expansions of the town naturally led to the creation of the first cemetery, the Old Town Cemetery, on Grove Street with the earliest head stones from 1683.

The house that is now our Cape Cod B&B at 118 Tupper Road (then Franklin Street) was built in 1750. Our Inn and 53 other near by properties, including all those mentioned above, is still standing today and is part of the Town Hall Historical District. This district is part of the National Register, which is a “federal listing of historic properties that are worthy of preservation because of their significance in American history, culture, archeology or architecture.” We are pleased that our house stands in this robust company. 

Early records indicated that a structure of some sort stood on our property as early as 1748. The Sandwich Historical Commission believes that Jonathan Bassett built an original “saltbox” house in about 1750. Jonathan Bassett is believed to be a descendant of William Bassett, Jr., one of the 1637 Sandwich founding settlers. The Bassett’s only daughter, Deliverance, married Elisha Hall (1747-1808) in 1768. Other records suggest that a Hall relative built the first house. All records agree that a member of the Hall family has lived in the house since the 1700's.
Newcomb Tavern c. 1693

Although I have no information about the political leanings of Elisha Hall, I like to believe he was among the Patriots. During the period leading up to the Revolutionary War, Sandwich firmly supported the Patriot cause, and in 1773 at Town Meeting passed its “seven resolutions,” which clearly put it in opposition to the King.  Elisha Hall may well have attended meetings at the Fressenden Tavern, which was known as the gathering spot for the Patriots. I hope he avoided the crowds at the Newcomb Tavern, his neighbor on Grove Street, which was frequented by the “Loyalist” who supported the King. 

We’re not sure where the Halls stood, but they were present during the Revolutionary War and prospered afterward. Come and celebrate the 260th anniversary of the house the Hall’s built and stay at our Sandwich Inn. Please see our Specials and Holiday Packages on our website.

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sandwich, MA - French Wine & Cheese Tasting

Charlie's Weekly Wine-ing

In a previous blog, I reported on a search for Chardonnay to serve guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. In August, I tasted and commented on four nice California Chardonnays. Last Friday night I had the pleasure of experiencing some French Chardonnays. The Brown Jug here in Sandwich sponsored the “Wines and Cheeses of France” with wines presented by Gary from Winebow (previously Boston Wine Company). The wines were from some of the key regions of France and were expertly pared with French cheeses by Michael and Steven from The Brown Jug.

The Brown Jug Wine Shop
We experienced seven wines matched with exceptional cheeses. It was a great education about the contrasting flavors and the impressive effect of combining the wine and cheese. The wines included: Domaine de l'Aumonier, Sauvignon blanc, Loire; Simonnet Febvre, Chablis; Saint Aubin Domaine Langoreau, Burgundy; Domaine Newman, Beaune; Clos Salomon, Givry 1er Cru, Cote Chalonnaise; Chateau Lacoste Borie, Pauillac; and finally the Drapier Grande Sendree, Champagne.  

I do not speak French and am baffled by French labels. Gary does speak French and used colorful maps to explain the origins of each of the wines. As each wine was served, I studied the label and tried to decipher what I heard Gary telling us about the wine. The first wine actually said Sauvignon Blanc, a grape I am familiar with, and “Loire”, a region of France that I had also heard of before. The next two wines were Chardonnay, but you could not tell from the bottles.

I liked the Chablis and learned that this is a sub-region of Burgundy with soil that gives the wine a very mineral flavor. This wines’ label did declare that the 2008 Simonnet Febvre was a “Grand Vin De Bourgogne.” Gary explained that Bourgogne is what the French call Burgundy. I still do not understand if Bourgogne is French for the English Burgundy, since I have also seen the word Burgundy on French bottles. For example, the next bottle we tasted was also a Chardonnay and included Burgundy on the label but was not Chablis. It didn’t get any easier with the red wines. The Domaine Newman and Clos Salmon were both Pinot Noir base wines, but neither said Burgundy or Bourgogne on the label that I could remember. I am known as a Pinot Hound, but I did not flip for either of these two. To be fair to the French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, even if I cannot read the labels, I need to taste more and should do a side by side tasting with some of my favorite California wines. Oh, what a good idea for another tasting.

All in all it was a great evening. I learned a lot about French wine and enjoyed some great cheeses. I look forward to the next Brown Jug event.    

Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sandwich, MA B&B Steeped in Sandwich History

History Series - Part I

To celebrate the 260th anniversary of the home that is now our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, we are sharing its long and wonderful history. The story of our Inn, and the families that built it in 1750 and have owned over the last 260 years, is intricately interwoven with the history of Sandwich Massachusetts. If you love American history, you will love Sandwich which, settled in 1637 and incorporated in 1639, is the oldest town on Cape Cod. I joke with my guest that it took the first settlers seventeen years to travel the eighteen miles from Plimoth Plantation where English Colonists landed in 1620. Today, it is just a 15-minute trip along state highway Route 3 from what is now Plymouth, MA to what is now Sandwich, MA.

In 1637, this was a very attractive area because of its salt marshes, fresh water streams, forests, and access to the Cape Cod Bay shipping waters. Early settlers soon were drawn to the area immediately across the street from our house, which is at the bottom of what is now known as lower Shawme Pond. Long before the English arrived, the native Indians  hunted the area and fished the fresh water Shawme River that started in a red cedar bog in what is now upper Shawme Pond and flowed through the marshes to Cape Cod Bay. As the town developed around our neighborhood, it became the center of commerce and trade and was known as Sandwich Village.

A group of founding settlers, known as the “10 men from Saugus,” was given a charter to start the new town of Sandwich by the controlling Plymouth Colony. The group was lead by Edmond Freeman and included Henry Feake, Thomas Dexter, Edward Dillingham, Richard Chadwell, William Almey, Thomas Tupper, and George Kent. Others from Plymouth and Duxbury who were looking for new opportunities quickly joined this first group, including William Bassett, Jr., Richard Bourne, and Thomas Burgess.

In the 1630’s, these men and their families defined the future of Sandwich, and their names still are prominent on the historical sites in Sandwich. Guests at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast walk the Sandwich Heritage Trail that includes the Dexter Grist Mill, built by Thomas Dexter between 1640 and 1646. These industrious men harnessed the river and built this mill that still grinds corn 370 years later, just as it did for the founding families. Jan makes a guest favorite roasted corn/rosemary, cornmeal muffin made with ground cornmeal from across the street at the Grist Mill. Guests love to take home a bag of cornmeal and recipe booklet as a souvenir of their stay in Sandwich. Just past the Grist Mill is the Thornton W. Burgess Museum, the childhood home of the renowned children’s author, naturalist, and descendent of the above Thomas Burgess. A little further up the road is the Dillingham House built by Edward Dillingham and reported to be haunted by ghosts of these founding fathers and others.

Our house was built in 1750 by a descendent of William Bassett from these founding families. Next week we’ll talk more about our house and the families that have owned it over the last 260 years. Our house and the town of Sandwich have retained their sense of history and, for that reason, are a great place to visit any time of the year. To celebrate our 260th anniversary, we invite you to join us.  Our Specials and Holiday Packages are available on our website.

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts